Today’s PK Dick Moment

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Today’s offering combines material about two of the most influential figures in my development — Philip K. Dick and Mircea Eliade.

Mark W. Smith asks, “PKD: Sham or Shaman?”:

In February of 1974 Philip K. Dick was feeling a lot of personal stress: financial matters involving the I.R.S., lingering effects of the break-in of his home and other fears experienced in 1971, and family matters involving the birth of a new child. He was also dealing with the effects of an impacted wisdom tooth. Phil had been administered Sodium Pentothal during surgery and later was awaiting the delivery of a pain killer. Phil had also been taking lithium in prescribed doses for some time.

During this time Phil began to receive and experience a series of dreams, visions and other-worldly experiences that would change his life and times for ever. He would spend the remaining years of his life in pursuit of explanations for what had happened. What follows is a synopsis of possible ideas, borrowed from both western and eastern thought; past, present and even future.

In speculating on the condition of Phil’s psyche at this point, one must ponder the combined effects of the stress, pain and drugs. The vision quest is a ritual practiced for gaining a guardian spirit or asking for supernatural guidance. These three forces are often utilized in preparing the mind and spirit for this: stress, in the form of isolation, fasts, thirsts and physical danger; pain, through mutilation or self mortification; and drugs, such as hallucinogens. In the successful vision quest the combination of these preparations will place the individual in a trance and make him a receptacle for supernatural forces. The vision quest still lies outside the realm of tribal shamanism.

Shamanism itself exists within the social structure of the tribe and is the practice of entering an altered state of consciousness and traversing non-physical realities in order to heal sickness, both physical, emotional, and spiritual; or to tell of the future and of things to pass, or to contact the dead, etc. The shamans are not priests, but are often more like mystics, and as such are separated from the main function of the society by their intense experiences. Siberian shamans go down to the underworld of the ancestral spirits to gain their knowledge. This belief system has had parallels in other cultures as well; in yoga tradition, the Manomya and Akashaloka siddhis provide access to other dimensions of the universe. In Iranian mysticism, Hurgalya, the celestial earth, is accessible for spiritual travel.

Within the shamanic traditions it is a long-held belief that of the three chief methods of obtaining shamanic powers (1) family transmission, (2) spontaneous vocation, and (3) people who become shamans of their own free will, the self-made shaman is the least powerful.

Mircea Eliade in Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy says, “However selected, a shaman is not recognized as such until after he has received two kinds of teaching: (1) ecstatic (dreams, trances, etc.) and (2) traditional (shamanic techniques, names and functions of spirits, mythology and genealogy of the clan, secret languages, etc.).”

Looking at Phil’s experience through a shamanistic viewpoint, we can say that it was spontaneous, and upon receiving the “call” he had a series of dreams, trances, visions, etc. Then he spent the next eight years trying to learn the traditions of his people, their mythology, the names and functions of their spirits, and so on.

For the most part he was on his own in his attempts to relate the experiences to the traditions of his people, due to the spiritual poverty that existed around him, and one wonders what would have been made of his experiences if he had been born or lived in a culture of rich shamanistic traditions.

Smith moves onward into deeper territory from there, an interesting and provoking essay that touches on many of the themes that make life meaningful.

If you’ve got the time, pull up a chair, heat up your cup o’ Joe, and meander through a thought stream that begins to uncover the certain something that makes PK Dick such an intriguing literary figure for those who cannot quite buy the dominant version of “reality” being peddled to the masses.

[Crossposted at Spontaneous Arising.]

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One thought on “Today’s PK Dick Moment

  1. AURORA says:

    Dear Michael,
    Even though “WE” have no desire to communicate with you any more in a more personal and direct way (and even though, history clearly shows US that the REVERSE is true, also) you really DO sometimes have THE most interesting and thought-provoking items on your Blog – and THAT WE really do admire!
    Your current item on one PK Dick, is another of such interest….
    so, since WE hardly ever do anything at present via the Web or via emails – (just been on the receiving end of FAR too much abuse from Darkness International ) to be an absolute waste of time for US…and since today in Victoria Australia IS such unseasonal weather – just 3 weeks from summer, snow, hail and VERY COLD…THOUGHT today would just jot down a few things here for anyone who IS genuinely interested in “how they tick” and how the experiences of someone like PK Dick can be interpreted – and therefore of VALUE .
    For those readers who may be wondering just who “WE” are….let US just say that “WE” are beings from “elsewhere”. Since WE have tried so hard in the past almost 5 years to attempt to communicate with human beings and since our attempts have been so mercilessly abused, misused and crunched into the dirt – WE will no longer waste any more effort attempting to explain the “WE”.
    So WE ask you just to keep the door of awakening open – rather than slamming it shut because you fear something new….
    Think of humankind at present as being akin to a swimming pool which is covered over with a few feet of cement or another good analogy, is think of Oil and how the “good oil” is covered with layers of shale or stone or mud etc….the stuff above is VERY thick and dense whilst the REALLY important stuff is more fluid underneath.
    Thus, it takes something VERY powerful to penetrate the density above the oil or to crack open the concrete above the water.
    When it comes to the individual, personal experience of this, people refer to it in a variety of ways e.g. “a bolt of light” ” an awakening” ” a trauma” etc…..The bolt of Light can come in a variety of ways such as some personal trauma like an accident or some BIG traumatic LOSS of some kind, it can be via a person who floats into your orbit and shakes your tree in some way, or it so often is like the experiences of PK Dick.
    HOWEVER it happens, the end results for the people involved will be similar – i.e. the EXPERIENCE CHANGES THE LIFE OF THE INDIVIDUAL.
    For those looking on at the person whilst this may be happening, it can often look much like a “breakdown” of some kind. It can look as if the person is “loosing their marbles”, “going off the deep edge”, “changing into someone they no longer recognize”, “mentally unstable”, “an emotional wreck” etc……
    And, for the person who IS having these experiences, it CAN temporarily feel as though they are “loosing their footing in Life”, “no longer sure of who they are”, “everywhere but nowhere”, “all over the place” etc…..
    And indeed – at least for a time – the person CAN feel as though they have no anchors in life, no yardsticks by which to measure, no roadmap ready to follow, no recognizable landmark to direct them.
    And indeed, there CAN be some truth in this – for what is happening to the person is that the “bolt of Light” is blasting through the density of the “false selves” and the “adapted selves” and the false truths and the illusions of Self and the wounds of the heart and the mind – to get to the “good oil” underneath all the density.
    Since this density in most human beings at present is about as thick and as high and as dense as The Great Wall of China, to get to the “other side” IS requiring some BIG “bolts of Light” to do the job! And, because the “bolts of Light” ARE so BIG and POWERFUL, getting underneath the density to the good oil DOES generally involve some “dislocation”.
    what IS so wonderful about all the “dislocation” is that once you ARE through the Great Wall and got your hands on your ow “good oil” – you know 2 things:
    1) You NEVER want to go through it EVER AGAIN !
    2) You are SO GLAD THAT YOU MADE THE JOURNEY !
    What can be SO difficult for those around the person who is experiencing the “bolt of Light” is that few will recognize or understand what is happening and that it is an ESSENTIAL part of the TRUE HEALING PROCESS.
    Most will see the person involved as “a basket case” who needs to be “fixed” – and FAST, before they create any more “problems” – either in themself or for the people around them.
    thus, “WE” see so many people who embark on the Healing State – but do NOT actually achieve it – because they get “stuck” somewhere along the way – usually under pressure and ignorance from those around them.
    THEN, the person involved REALLY DOES have a painful life, stuck in the foot in one world and a foot in the other world, evrywhere but nowhere, and full of pain and confusion, unable to return to “who they WERE” and not a clue about “who they WANT TO BECOME”.
    This is where “WE” usually come on to the picture – and, for those who DO make OUR genuine and open acquaintance, they DO get to the “other side” and the “good oil” of THEMSELVES.
    It is OUR regret that so few of you are TRULY bothering to make the journey.
    So, when yiou come across a PK Dick, do your best not to view them as someone to fear as a “basket case”. Do your best instead to look at them as a MIRROR to YOU. Don’t look at THEM and attempt to figure out WHO THEY ARE. Look in your MIRROR and figure out WHO YOU ARE.
    Hmmmm. Figure that this WAS an OK way to spend part of a very cold morning in Victoria Australia, after all.
    best wishes, MOUNTAIN MAN…..
    “WE”……

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